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Anthropophobia (Fear of People or Society) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2020

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What is Anthropophobia?

Anthropophobia, also known as anthrophobia, is fear of people or society. The term is derived from the Greek terminology, ‘Anthro’ means human and ‘Phobos’ means fear. Anthropophobia is a part of the social anxiety disorder (SAD). Social anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder where the person feels fear in social situations, gatherings, and meetings.

Being in these situations make them nauseated and put mental stress on them, affecting their social functioning and their daily aspects of life. Sometimes, the person suffering from Anthropophobia can feel anxious just by thinking hard about being around people, let alone experiencing the presence.

Causes of Anthropophobia

The causes of anthropophobia are not always clear. It can vary from person to person and their past experiences. Sometimes there might not even be a cause for a person to have anthropophobia. The possible causes can be:

  1. Traumatic past experiences
  2. Genetic
  3. Changes in the functioning of the brain
  4. Behaviours in the surrounding
  5. Environment

Symptoms of Anthropophobia

Although anthropophobia has yet to be classified as a clinical condition, hence there are not likely to have any clinical syndrome as well. Below are a few symptoms likely to be noticed in people with anthropophobia:

  • Extreme anxiety in a few certain situations or around a few people.
  • Avoiding a specific situation or condition when possible.
  • The anxiety around the people or in events lasts more than six months
  • The anxiety causes hindrance in daily lives and social functioning.

The signs that seem to be anthropophobia sometimes can also be something underlying. That includes post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder or a delusional disorder.

Risk Factors of Developing Anthrophobia

Risk Involved:

The high intensity of anxiety related to phobia like anthrophobia can can patients to seek relief through the use of drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately the drug abuse of any kind can make the anxiety felt even more worse. Additionally it can also create new problems like:

  • Risk of overdose
  • Risk of accident while under the influence
  • Acute medical emergencies
  • Chronic health issues
  • Development of addiction

How to Diagnosis Anthrophobia?

Challenges While Diagnosing Anthrophobia:

Someone may self-professed anthrophobia. But if it's part of different conditions, a medical professional would have to be the one to make that distinction and diagnose, To do this diagnose, they'd use the criteria in the DSM-5 through:

  • By observing the behaviour
  • Talking with individual
  • By medical examination
  • If necessary, verifying the reports from other health professionals

There is no home test for a phobia. While there may be online tests or surveys, these shouldn't be taken as medical advice.


Anthropophobia includes a wide variety of social fears or trepidations. A few people fear specific circumstances as public speaking or eating with unknown individuals. Others fear basically every social situation. However, in social anxiety disorder, the person is affected by the attention of people in social scenarios.

In anthropophobia, the person is affected by the presence of people regardless of the situation. It also depends on the type of person that they’re encountering, the response to a kind and loving relative can be different from a stranger in public.

The people with social anxiety disorder feel less nervous or not nervous at all around the familiar gathering, as long as they’re not the centre of attention. In anthropophobia, the number of people or acquaintances with the people around won’t matter, they’re going to be reluctant towards the presence of people.

Treatment of Anthropophobia

It can be challenging for people with anthropophobia to sustain in our society. Our society is designed in a way that promotes social interaction to function properly. For people with anthropophobia, it can be hard. But there are ways to work around with its symptoms.

It is always a good idea to seek help from the people you trust or contact a counsellor. Your trusted friends and companions can help you get over the symptoms.

There is no particular treatment for anthropophobia. But there are methods that work on phobias and anxiety generally. These treatment options depend upon a lot of factors like the type of phobia, person’s condition and severity of the phobia.

The generally used methods are Cognitive Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Relaxation Therapy etc. Your doctor might suggest a few medications to help you with the symptoms. But medication is never a solution for the phobias.

Therapy can be helpful for phobias, particularly when utilized with various other treatment methods. Apart from that, your therapist might use traditional talk therapy methods in combination with cognitive and exposure therapies for better results.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): has been demonstrated as exceptionally effective for the treatment of phobias. In CBT, your specialist attempts to stifle negative thoughts and attempts to change your reasoning mechanism.

Exposure Therapy: is also a type of CBT, where the patient is let to face the fears head-on. This therapy is performed in a controlled and safe environment. For a person with anthropophobia, it can be meeting with people and spending a while with them under the close supervision of the doctor.

Relaxation Therapy: can also help people with phobias, it has been extremely useful for people with specific phobias. In relaxation therapy, the patient is taught a few numbers of techniques to relax voluntarily during the triggers. These techniques might include some breathing exercises, meditation to practice daily, muscle relaxation techniques etc. Relaxation therapy makes you capable enough to reduce mental and physical tension voluntarily.

How to Overcome from Fear of People or Society?

There are ways to prevent the phobia from your end, if it’s not severe. However, the patient should not hesitate to seek help from a therapist. The treatment will be different for person to person. Apart from that the patient can try these:

  1. Talking to someone
  2. Breathing exercises.
  3. Seeking help from therapist
  4. Exercise

Tips to Manage Fear of People Phobia

Living with the anthrophobia can be challenging. But there are things you can do to ease symptoms.

Never deal with your phobia alone. Talk to your doctor or counselor. They can help with treatment and provide support. A trusted friend or family member can be helpful to take you out of phobia.

A healthy lifestyle can make you feel better overall. This may even help ease some symptoms of anxiety related with phobia. Drink a lot of water, dehydration can affect mood and watch your alcohol intake. While alcohol might initially have a calming effect, it can disrupt sleep, leaving you unrested.

Caffeine can contribute to anxious feelings. Some individuals might find it helpful to limit consumption. Other things that may help:

  • Avoiding social isolation
  • getting enough sleep
  • exercise regularly, even if it;s just a daily walk

Tips for living with Social Anxiety

Everyone gets nervous at certain social situations, but if you have social phobia every day can be extra challenging. Do not let your fear keep you away from living life to the fullest. Below are the 7 tips to help you feel better:

  1. Control your breathing: Anxiety can cause changes in your body that makes you uncomfortable. There are certain techniques which can help you slow your breathing and manage other anxiety symptoms. Try below steps:
    • Sit in comfortable position with your back straight
    • Relax your shoulder
    • Keep your one hand on your belly and other on your chest
    • Breathe slowly through your nose. The hand on your belly will rise and the other on your chest shouldn't move.
    • Hold your breath for 2 seconds and slowly let it out through your mouth for 6 seconds.
    • Repeat this process several times until you feel relaxed.
  2. Try muscle relaxation exercise: Research tells that certain physical exercise like jogging can help you lower your anxiety. The muscle relaxation technique can help too. It means flexing and releasing groups of muscles in your body and can keep your attention on the feeling of release. Yoga can also help you calm down as it can help lower overall anxiety.
  3. Prepare yourself: Plan ahead of social situations that make you feel nervous can help you feel more confident. Try to prepare yourself for what's to come.
  4. Start with small: Do not jump for big event situations.go for restaurant meals with family or friends so you can get used to eating in public. Try going out of your way to make eye contact with people on the street or at the grocery story and say hello. Start a conversation with another person, ask them about their hobbies or places to travel. Be patient with yourself as it takes time and practice to tackle social anxiety.
  5. Take the focus off yourself: Just try to shift your attention on what is happening around you instead of what is inside your head. People appreciate when others act interested and genuine, so try to focus on being present and a good listener.
  6. Remove negative thoughts: These thoughts might be related to people or situation, they may even be automatic. Most of the time, they are wrong. But they can cause you to misread things like facial expressions. It could lead you to assume people are thinking things about you that they aren't.
  7. Senses:Sound, sight, smell, touch and taste-- your senses can help you calm down in the moment when you're feeling anxious. If you feel anxious about social situations, try listening to your favourite song, look at your favourite photographs.

Additional Information on Anthrophobia Issue

If you’re the person living with a phobia alone, then we suggest you seek for little help. It can be a little hard, being around people or talking to them about your situation but start with someone close to you, whom you can trust. Although they’re not a substitute for a professional therapist this is where you should start.

They might help you with your therapy and to cope with the symptoms. A healthy lifestyle and daily meditation can help you relax. Monitor your alcohol intake, try to quit smoking, drink a lot of water and have a good sleep. These little things can turn your life around.

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Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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